Good Tidings To All

            If you’ve moved past the writing letters to Santa stage of life, your Christmas wish may be similar to mine.  For my wish, let the Christmas and New Year season be a time for relaxation and renewal with family and friends.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.  If you find yourself stressed, consider a new perspective. Here are a few ideas.

            To entertain family and friends, the house doesn’t have to be perfect.  Turning down lights makes for a cozier atmosphere and takes the spotlight off less than perfect housekeeping.  A relaxing time with friends and family is the goal.

            As family and friends get older they become harder to shop for.  Rather than stress over the right gift, replace the stress of shopping with a new tradition like dinner out, a movie, a seasonal performance or an entertaining board game.  Need an idea?  Try the Huntsville Botanical Gardens’ Galaxy of Lights.  Its larger-than-life animated light displays are the best in the nation and a treat for all ages.  For more family friendly ideas visit Rocket City Mom.

            Schedule breaks. My choice is to bundle up and walk through the neighborhood enjoying Christmas decorations.  My favorite neighborhood walk is Horse Shoe Trail in Southeast Huntsville.  While out, be sure to look up to find your favorite constellation. It’s a free trip outside ourselves that for many brings inner peace. My favorite’s the Big Dipper.

            Don’t miss the opportunity to let others enjoy giving.  The best occasions are often where everyone invited has an opportunity to help.  While trying to do it all is a noble goal, it’s more likely a recipe for stress.

            Perhaps you have already reinvented your traditions to accommodate a changing family or circle of friends.  I’d love to hear about them.  Perhaps you will allow me to share them next year.  For more ideas, take a look at “31 Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas.”

        Nancy Neighbors, MD

More Ideas

            Make a change.  If the job of holiday cards always falls on you then perhaps it’s time to enlist your family.  Encourage participation with fresh cookies from the oven.  Really, who can’t be bribed with fresh cookies straight from the oven?

            If worried or feeling stress, pause for a few moments and imagine everything you have was taken away.  Then remember how grateful you are for what you have.  Gratitude is good medicine.

            Regardless of the seasonal traditions you have followed, before repeating them ask, “Is it still relevant?” and, “Is it still fun?”  If trimming the tree has become more of a chore than a creative challenge then maybe it’s time for a creative alternative.

Christmas Music Through the Ages

            Contemporary Christmas music may have the sound of a dance tune or rap but still finds a way to remind us that peace and love make the world a better place.

            Many of our traditional Christmas carols originated from poems by the likes of Longfellow, Martin Luther, and Shakespeare.  From the full text of these older poems, we are reminded that love and peace were challenging in their day.  Perhaps not so much has changed.  For more about the history of traditional Christmas carols read, “7 Christmas Poems That Inspired Beloved Christmas Carols.”

            Researchers tracking weight changes around holidays found that on average weight increases for most around holidays.  While hardly a startling discovery, the study is a reminder of what could happen. Even for those that tend to have a stable weight, over indulging in not so nutritious foods can compromise our immune system and lead to more winter time colds.

            Studies show that on average, people weigh the most at the beginning of January (following Christmas and the New Year.)  While having less exercise is a contributing factor, the main culprit is the increase in calories.

            While weight gain for most is less than two pounds, that two pounds may take considerable effort to shed. For many, the downside to yo-yo dieting in the new year is the likelihood that we may return to our previous weight, but without attention to nutrition and exercise some of it may be retained as fat.

            For many, a good strategy is to keep a weight log by the scales. The act of weighing can be a reminder and motivator to reduce calorie consumption and exercise more.

            Have a concern about possible weight gain this holiday season?  For more about the holiday weight gain phenomenon read, “We Really Do Get A Little More Santa-Like, Physically, During The Holidays.”

By Nancy Neighbors, MD

... Dr. Neighbors provides a blend of traditional family medicine and evidence-based lifestyle medicine in Huntsville, Alabama. When indicated, lifestyle change is recommended as the first line of therapy.

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